Legal fight over 'Vista capable' PCs gets trial date

That will be nearly two years after the operating system's release

A lawsuit alleging that Microsoft Windows Vista Capable users were misled about the capabilities of the operating system will go to trial Oct. 28, 2008, a federal judge in Seattle decided last week. That starting date will be close to the two-year anniversary of the release of the Windows Vista operating system.

On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman in Seattle released a schedule for a lawsuit by a Washington state resident disappointed in her PC, which was designated as being a Windows Vista Capable system. The Seattle-based law firm Gordon Tilden Thomas & Cordell, which filed the suit on behalf of the plaintiff, is seeking class-action status for the case.

The judge released the schedule, even though she is still considering a motion from Microsoft to dismiss this case. A decision on the dismissal could come as early as next month and -- if the case is allowed to move forward -- a ruling on the class-action status could come in September, said one attorney connected to the case.

Prior to the release of Vista, Microsoft allowed PC sellers to certify some systems as "Windows Vista Capable" with just 512MB of RAM. The designation means that the system could run Vista Home Basic. Systems deemed Vista Premium Ready PCs have at least 1GB of RAM. And some vendors have recommended that users have at least 2GB of RAM for decent performance when using Vista.

In court papers, the lawyer representing Dianne Kelley, the Washington resident who brought the complaint, argued that the Windows Vista Capable designation "bore few, if any, of the features unique to the 'real Vista,' the premium edition. Microsoft "was able to increase the sales of its soon-to-be-replaced Windows XP operating system by certifying soon-to-be-obsolete computers as 'Vista Capable' when, in truth, such computers were incapable of running the 'real Vista.' "

Microsoft, in its response to the lawsuit, argues that Kelley wasn't harmed or misled. Kelley "does not allege that Microsoft's conduct deceived her into buying a PC that she would not have otherwise have purchased, or that she received anything other than what she expected to receive -- a low-end PC with the 'Windows Vista Capable' sticker, which was in fact 'capable' of running Windows Vista Home Basic."

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Patrick Thibodeau

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